‘Ai Pohaku – The Stone Eaters is a community-based economic endeavor that continues to nurture and grow our ‘aina connection through the cultivation, gathering and production of real food. We are on the path to creating “livelihood” for our community and our island nation. With a strong foundation of the tradition of ku‘i kalo (hand pounding kalo into pa‘i‘ai and poi), we have spent a good part of the last 10 years learning about kiawe as a food for our people. Even though kiawe has been in the islands for almost 200 years, this ancient food is brand new for almost all of Hawai‘i’s people.
The founder of ‘Ai Pohaku, Vince Kana‘i Dodge, is a papa (grandfather), educator, cultural practitioner and longtime resident of Wai‘anae where kiawe trees are plentiful. One day in early 2006 on MA‘O Organic Farms a couple from Arizona shared that “mesquite” – the cousin of kiawe – was a staple of all the Southwest native peoples. They said it was a sweet, nutritious and diabetic-friendly food. At that time the Wai‘anae community was in the throes of a diabetic epidemic. Imagine: a sweet, nutritious diabetic-friendly food growing in our backyards… Vince was called. We believe it is no accident that the concentration of kiawe and diabetes are in the same place.
Since then we traveled to Tucson, Arizona to take the Desert Harvesters’ mesquite milling training in 2009 (www.desertharvesters.org), and in 2012 to Argentina to visit with the Wichi people who continue to eat kiawe daily as they have been for a thousand years. We were blessed to make many good friends, use and aquire a small mill designed to grind kiawe bean pods into flour.
We are blessed to be joined in this endeavor by our Elementary to High School youth; by some of our houseless people; by cultural practioners; by aunties and uncles; by passionate cooks, chefs and bakers; by our friends here, on the continent and in Argentina; by our families and many many lovers of our ‘aina.
He ali‘i ka ‘aina, he kauwa ke kanaka. – The land is chief, people its servants. Olelo no‘eau 531
Vince Kana‘i Dodge
Joshua Morimoto is a long time `Ai Pohaku youth, and our first kiawe youth intern. He is also known as “Sole”.
Tita Hokoana has lived under kiawe trees for years. She is a true maka`ainana. A veteran of 4 kiawe bean pod seasons, she is our best wahine bean picker!
Aunty Kehaulani Dzvoreck, one of our resident kupuna, is on a mission to create gluten free recipes that taste good for her family and friends.